This is a blog featuring my personal stories of food, gardening, yachting, photography, travel and life.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Rule #1

Salmon needs very little to make it awesome. I have seen people smoother it in sauces of all sorts, with fruit, veggies, seen it baked, fried, roasted, BBQed, seared, sashimied, you name it. I recently saw a recipe that called for the salmon to be smothered in mayonaise. Please people, keep it simple!

Salmon is at its best when it is lightly salted and peppered, a pat of butter placed in the middle and baked in a 375 degree oven until done. How long is that? Depends on the salmon, and the size and thickness of the filet or steak. It takes some experience doing it before you get the hang of it. Generally, a filet or steak will take between 20-30 minutes. Check to see if the salmon flakes easily and is a pale pink color in the middle. All you really need to worry about is that it is not overcooked. When salmon is perfect it is moist almost to the point of underdone.
Keep the fish and the plate simple and elegant. Serve the salmon with a mild vegetable such as broccoli or haricot verts, and with a light starch such as a long-grain rice. Salmon can stand on its own but it can be overpowered by what you serve it with. Honor it with simplicity!
Here is my salmon recipe of the day:
1--3-4 ounce piece of salmon filet per person with skin on.
Lightly oil with Olive Oil
Sprinkle with Kosher Salt and fresh ground pepper
One pat of fresh creamery butter in the middle of each piece of fish.
Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.
Place in a baking dish skin side down. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes.
Remove from oven. Let rest 5 minutes before plating.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

What To Do With All This Fish?

While attending my institution of higher learning way back in the 70's, I found myself in need of a means of supporting myself. Little money came my way from my family and after my dad passed away things got really tight. So I went to the school food service office and snagged a job as a dishwasher in the dorm cafeteria. Pots and pans, dinner plates, cups, glasses and flatware. Tons of it! All passing through a small window by hands sans face. This photo isn't of me but it gives you a feel for the situation I was working in. Imagine dishes times ten and the temperature a cool 100 degrees with humidity though. I worked hard, was never AWOL and eventually earned a rep as being very dependable, an important characteristic in the food service industry.

My boss walked in one day and asked if I'd be interested in being the weekend breakfast cook. Wow, out of the dishroom and into the kitchen? Yeah, I think I'd like that. I wasn't out of the dishroom at all. I just worked the breakfast on weekends and did the dinner dishes during the week. No problem. I worked 7 days a week and continued to be dependable, on-time and I turned out to be a pretty good breakfast cook. Eggs over easy, poached, sunny-side up, bacon, sausage, pancakes, you name it and I did it.

My boss walks in one and asked if I'd be interested in working in the main cafeteria. Out of the dishroom and into the main kitchen? I'd like that. Once again, I was in the dishroom. This time at the central cafeteria's main kitchen, a much bigger faciity and much busier place. I was still the breakfast cook on weekends at the dorm. Oh, well. I was always on time and dependable.

My boss walks in one day and asked if I'd be interested in working on evening catering events. "Would I be out of the dishroom?", I asked hopefully? "Oh, yeah", was his response.

Within the year that I'd been hired as a dishwasher at the dorm, I was the Student Manager and Catering Chef for all evening events at the school. During the next 2 years I attended every training session held by the corporate chefs that stopped by from time to time. Often I was the only employee that paid any attention to what the chef had to say. I listened and learned and I learned a lot. I prepared dinner for George Bush the first (I wouldn't boil water for George Bush the second.) He was only the CIA director at the time, but you'd have thought the president was eating with us what with all the security surrounding the event. Later in my career I cooked for the San Francisco 49ers camp, and many other well known dignitaries. I even cooked for the Gallo family of the Ernest and Julio Gallo clan. Today I cook mostly for special events around our church, community charitable organizations and the occasional catered event of one sort or another. Professional cooking is a young man's game and takes a horrific toll on you physically even when you are in good shape--and few cooks are in top shape. So doing it professionally on a day to day basis for me anymore is just not in the cards. Besides I have a full time job already as a teacher I love. So, nowdays it is just for the love of it and the fun of cooking for friends and family.

All of this was to give some background on my life and knowledge of the culinary arts as I prepare to launch into a series of blogs on the subject of cooking. First stop. . .what to do with all that fish I caught this summer. I am going to do a series on preparing salmon and halibut your friends will love. So stay tuned!